March 16, 2017
The Garage, London
“Did you *bring* ginger nuts?”
It’s not clear if Dave Hause realises just how good his lyrics are, but he must know he has something truly special as a performer. These are the nights we live for. His energy and passion was infectious from the first trusty chords to the last, causing a frenzy out in the crowd that Hause constantly seemed to want to join.
“Holy shit, I waited too long to come back to London,” Hause exclaimed. No argument here. Despite the years that have passed since Hause’s 2013 solo tour and memorable turn on the Revival Tour, no-one had forgotten that feeling that his live show brings. It was all the more anticipated this time round for being with a full band.
Not just any band. The Mermaid had Hause’s younger brother Tim shredding up a storm on guitar.
Hidden amongst the noise and fury of the live show was the subtle, sweet relationship between the brothers. Their mutual pride and awe was a delight;. At one point Dave ran over to kiss Tim on the cheek, a split-second sign of brotherly love, without missing a beat in the song.
It’s almost surprising that Dave didn’t suffer an injury; Tim’s defined cheek bones could surely cut glass. Then again, Dave’s smile could light up the town. Must be something in the genes!
Dave Hause has never shied away from political lyrics, at least as they reflect the lived experience of working folk, so there was no surprise that he had strong feeling about the state of his nation under Trump: “we don’t have healthcare, we don’t have a single shred of dignity in the White House.” From that point on, it was almost inevitable that the new track Dirty Fucker would be dedicated to the president. [Stop press: Now there’s a Dirty Fucker Trump t-shirt too!]
It was heartwarming to see how much the crowd embraced the songs from Hause’s new album, Bury Me In Philly. It felt like everyone was as word-perfect for The Flinch and With You – surely written with the live show in mind – as for the classics from the first two albums.
Hause knew to strike the right balance of old and new, name-checking Chuck Ragan and The Revival Tour before playing an excellent Americana version of Prague (Revive Me) with the multi-talented Kayleigh Goldsworthy on the mandolin. Everyone knew the significance when Hause paused, grinning, during the lyric “there’s not too many nights like these…when you know you have it way too good.”
Of course, everyone has their favourites, and one fan requested a song by appealing to Hause’s weakness for British biscuits (cookies, for any American readers out there!) Hause was no pushover. When he sussed that the promised ginger nuts weren’t in the room, he shot back that, in that case, he’d forgotten how to play the song. Burn!
In the time it took for a quick best biscuit poll of the audience – Hob Nobs won, probably because custard creams weren’t on the list – some absolute legend ran in with a bag of biscuits from the supermarket next door. Seriously, who needs alcohol when Jammie Dodgers can bring so much joy?!
After that windfall, it was only fair for the crowd to be rewarded. The anticipation was palpable when Hause announced he would play a song in a format that he would never play it again. A solo, acoustic version of Jane by Hause’s much-missed punk band The Loved Ones. To say the crowd went wild would be an understatement.
From the earliest moments of the set, it seemed Hause was aching to break away into the crowd. By Resolutions, he ran along the photo pit, grabbing for the arms that reached out to him.
For the final song – one of the best songs I know – all bets were off. Hause was held aloft by the front row fans as everyone sung to C’Mon Kid in unison.
Hey Dave and The Mermaid, come back soon, you hear? We want to spend more time with Tim. We want to blow your mind with Viennese Whirls and Party Rings. Trust me, I used to work at a biscuit factory!
Dave Hause’s new album, Bury Me In Philly, is out now. Check out my review here.
“Somebody had to lose a finger for me to play this show”
Sam Russo was under no illusion about why this coveted support slot was offered to him: Dead Heavens’ drummer’s finger was sheared off in a freak folding chair accident. Russo had been through the wars, too: “I’m on doctor’s orders not to stamp my foot because it’s broken.”
There was no chance that Russo would take this night for granted. As a jobbing musician holding down a day job, he admitted this was “just what I needed this week.” He recounted trying to explain his Thursday night plans to an incredulous colleague. Russo had described his sound as ‘thrash metal lounge.’ He laughed at the memory: “that’s the part that he thought was reasonable, not playing in London.”
Russo had an easy charm, helped along by the crowd’s familiarity with him and his back catalogue, including Small Town Shoes, Dry Shampoo and Holding On. After all, he’d joined Chuck Ragan for a song at the London leg of The Revival Tour in 2011.
Fortunately for the crowd, unfortunately for him, he shared that frenetic performance impulse too. Inevitably, he stomped his foot: “it really fucking hurt!” Judging by the beam on his face as he left the stage, reckon he’ll remember the joy of the show much more than the temporary pain.
Find out more about Sam Russo at facebook.com/SamRusso113/
“I write really depressing songs, as you’ll fucking find out”
Describing himself as from “North of Ireland, south of heaven,” Belfast’s Robyn G Shiels showed admirable restraint despite being able to “hear fuckers talking” during his set. As he explained, to his obvious regret, “I’m not allowed to get violent.”
It’s hard to understand why people would turn up early to a show, pay for overpriced drinks and not show a bit of respect for the support bands. If they had, they’d have heard a fair amount of nuanced darkness in Shiels’ set.
With songs like Hello Death and Underneath The Night of Stars, Shiels style ranged from metal influences to murder ballads delivered with a deep drawl and a wry smile.
Still, there’s time for them to catch up. As Shiels pointed out, all the music is online: “Bandcamp feeds my drug habit.”
Here’s Robyn G Shiels’ Bandcamp page. Knock yourself out.
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